It may be hard to remember thanks to how long the previous book was and all the sick leaves, but there was a time when I was trying to decide between three books, all of them based on a popular series. The first was a Doctor Who novel that won the poll because my time lord-loving friend was the only one who voted. (This is what I mean about polls being a waste of time for me to put up.) The second we just finished, based on the BattleTech franchise. Thus it is time for the third and final book, and it’s a Star Trek book. Because I have a lot of Star Trek novels. It’s probably the longest series of novels in my prose collection, and I don’t even own close to all of them.
The last time I reviewed a Star Trek novel it was slightly disappointing. Enterprise: The First Adventure told a possible story of Kirk’s first mission as Captain of the USS Enterprise and every character who got a back story was a sad, depressing one. Nobody joined Starfleet because they always dreamed of going into space or had skills that would be useful elsewhere. Everybody had some bad event or grew up someplace they wanted to escape as their primary motivation. The story itself was imaginative but just felt kind of weird I guess. I did a book review for The Clutter Reports and it links back to that series of Chapter By Chapter reviews. Will this one be better? Honestly going by the back cover description I have concerns, and only the fact that our co-authors are very familiar with this series gives me any hope. I’ll explain as we discuss our next Chapter By Chapter book review….
Star Trek: Prime Directive
by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
This time I want to start by talking about the authors. The Reeves-Stevens are a husband and wife writing team with numerous TV shows, movies, and novels to their credits. They’ve worked on other franchises but are probably best known for their work on Star Trek novels. They know their stuff and they’re good at what they do. This is my shred of hope, but reading the back cover description gives me pause. Let me explain.
Starfleet’s most sacred commandment has been violated. Its most honored captain is in disgrace, its most celebrated starship in pieces, and the crew of that ship scattered among the thousand worlds of the Federation…
This is my main concern. There is no way a book with this plot can co-exist with canon without magic reset time travel or taking place in an alternate universe. Frankly I’d hope for the latter but I’m totally expecting the former. Alternate universes, and we know the Star Trek Universe is more of a multiverse even before the recent timeline shenanigans, allow writers to do things they normally couldn’t get away with, though far too many writers use this as an excuse to kill all your favorite characters knowing there aren’t any real consequences and are hoping your love of those characters creates shock drama. Especially today, writers love shock drama whether it makes sense or not (usually it does not). This book came out in 1990 and a “historian’s note” at the start of the book states this takes place during the first five-year mission, in other words at some point during the original and animated Star Trek series. We know none of this can happen in the classic timeline without a Voyager-style magic reset button.
Thus begins Prime Directive, an epic tale of the Star Trek universe. Following in the bestselling tradition of Spock’s World and The Lost Years, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens have crafted a thrilling take of mystery and wonder, a novel that takes the Star Trek characters from the depths of despair into an electrifying new adventure that spans the galaxy.
I actually have Spock World and if this site goes on long enough expect that to be reviewed far, far into the future. My Star Trek novel collection, which includes stories from the original series, TNG, and DS9 (Voyager is part of a set I really don’t want to read because I don’t like the tone and topic), is put together in something resembling chronological order rather than the numbering of the books. Not that it matters since neither this nor Spock’s World have numbers. The other is a hardcover and this is a paperback but I imagine it belongs to the same set of Trek novels that are larger than the usual and don’t have numbers attached, like #38 in the series or something.
Journey with Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the former crew of the starship Enterprise to Talin, the planet where their careers ended. A World once teeming with life that now lies ruined, its cities turned to ashes, its surface devastated by a radioactive firestorm–because of their actions. There, they must find out how–and why–this tragedy occured…and discover what has become of their captain.
The strange thing is this plot doesn’t match up with what I think of when I think of the Prime Directive, a Starfleet “supreme” order that often goes a little cockeyed depending on the writer. I discussed it a bit during my review of the writer’s guide for Star Trek: The Next Generation and SF Debris has a lovely breakdown (second video on the page) of the failures of this storytelling device I highly recommend watching when your done here. If indeed general order #uno is important to this story, best be aware where I’m coming from because it’s basically the same as his.
Then there’s the chapter set-up of the book. We have four sections to this book, and the chapters break down thusly.
- Part One: Aftermath> seven chapters
- Part Two: The Last Mission> ten chapters
- Part Three: Talin> thirteen chapters
- Part Four: The New Mission> two chapters
- Total Chapter Count> thirty-two
There is also a prologue and epilogue. If this was originally designed for a big hardback book like Spock’s World the page count (around 400) makes some sense because it wouldn’t be that high in the larger format. Some of these chapters are kind of short so there may be combinations of chapters per article. Other times I expect to spend a lot of time reading that day. We’ll see what happens. Next time we being with the prologue and chapter one of part one.